Make Your Family Feel Like Royalty: My Favourite Ways to See, Stay & Eat at Versailles
When Louis XIV moved France’s Royal Court (along his family) from Paris to Versailles in 1682, it represented a huge shift away from France’s traditional seat of power.
Fortunately, witnessing the opulence and splendour of Versailles, just 20 kilometres southwest of Paris, can be done in an easy day trip (or a wonderful overnight) as a bookend to your French vacation.
At the end of my family vacation this summer, we opted for the overnight option and stayed at the Waldorf Trianon Palace Versailles.
Located just outside one of the Palace gates, the hotel overlooks the gardens of Versailles. The rooms are modern and spacious, perfect for our family of five. The kids loved the indoor pool, tennis courts and the palatial vibe of the property.
I loved the fact that the hotel concierge sells tickets to Versailles, avoiding the long line-ups. The concierge can also arrange theatre tickets and special access to the famous palace and gardens.
Another great option is Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, a 16th c. grandiose building set within the gates of Versailles. Once playing host to Europe’s political and cultural elite, from ambassadors and artists to musicians, writers and scientists of the Enlightenment, Le Grand Controle has been completely restored and opened its doors to its first guests in June 2021—you no longer have to be royalty to stay overnight on the grounds of Versailles!
The views from the hotel to the Orangery Garden and the Lake of the Swiss Guards are incredible, and each of the 14 rooms and suites is complete with revamped takes on royal classics—a beautiful mix of period furnishing and contemporary comforts.
You can try the hotel’s Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay Restaurant, or head into town for lunch or dinner at some of Versailles’ hot new restaurants.
Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in the Royal Palace, ORE, had not opened when we were there—but breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea looks amazing! The wine bar Le Sept has also been getting a lot of press, along with Le Table du 11.
Exploring the gardens and the Palace easily takes a day. The concierge suggested visiting the palace late in the day to avoid lines and she was right. While busy, we didn’t have to line up at all.
A word of warning—pace yourself! It is a lot of walking and the kids were done by the end of the day. I would consider spreading the visit over two days—or if you are visiting for the day trying a bike tour such as the one offered by Fat Tire Tours.
We missed the evening fountain display with fireworks that occurs every Saturday from mid-June to mid-September, but it would be an easy walk from the hotel.
What I’d Do Differently
Next time I may try another option: overnighting in Chantilly before a flight out of Charles de Gaulle.
The Chateau Hotel Mont-Royal is only 20 minutes from the airport. A visit to the Domaine de Chantilly, the famous stables that offer equestrian shows and even a visit to the horse races, could make for a fun add-on!